Game of Thrones has never been about giving readers or viewers what they most want. It’s author and screenwriters prefer to build fan expectations, then overturn them for narrative impact — and sometimes for pure shock value. And yet we fans maintain hope that at least a few of the characters will reach a satisfying, well-deserved ending. That’s why there’s Game of Thrones Hope Chest, a new weekly poll where we put all our hopes together in one place. We aren’t asking what you think is going to happen on Game of Thrones, we’re asking: what do you most hope to see happen?
This week, we’re looking at the prophecy about Azor Ahai, a legendary Game of Thronesfigure who may have saved Westeros from the previous coming of the undead White Walkers with his flaming sword Lightbringer, and theoretically will be reborn “amidst salt and smoke” to re-forge Lightbringer and save the land again. Typically, the reborn Azor Ahai is known as the Prince Who Was Promised, although as with all things Game of Thrones, there are different interpretations; some fans think the reincarnated Azor Ahai and the Prince are different prophecies. But let’s not get too buried in the minutiae.
In the book and on the show, the priestess Melisandre follows and assists Stannis Baratheon because she believes he’s the Prince, the chosen one of her god, the Lord of Light, and the man destined to save the Seven Kingdoms. But with TV-Stannis dead and Jon Snow recently resurrected by Melisandre’s god, she’s come to believe Jon is the new Azor Ahai.
But is she right? Fans have argued a fair bit over this one, and the season 7 premiere, “Dragonstone,” rekindled the debate. There have already been arguments that Beric Dondarrion, who the Lord of Light keeps resurrecting, and who fights with a flaming sword, has always been the true Azor Ahai. Another popular school of thought says that just as with the “valonqar” prophecy about who’ll kill Cersei Lannister (covered in last week’s poll), “prince” in Westeros’ ancient language is gender-neutral. So it may be that Daenerys Targaryen is the Azor Ahai, rebirthed in fire, and literally capable of waking “dragons from stone,” as the book’s version of the prophecy claims. Other theories have named Arya Stark, Davos Seaworth (as a sailor and a warrior, certainly known for “salt and smoke”), Jaime Lannister (a champion swordsman in need of redemption), Robert Baratheon’s son Gendry (a blacksmith capable of re-forging Lightbringer), and most recently, Sandor “the Hound” Clegane as the Prince Who Was Promised.
But is it just a matter of who fits the prophecy best? The real question is, what would be the best ending to the story? Someone’s going to stand up and be the final hero in Westeros’ battle against the undead, but who’s the best choice?